One strike away; nothing-and-two, the count to Hinske. Fans on the their feet; rally towels are being waved. Brad Lidge stretches. The 0-2 pitch — swing and a miss, struck him out! The Philadelphia Phillies are 2008 World Champions of baseball! Brad Lidge does it again, and stays perfect for the 2008 season! 48-for-48 in save opportunities, and watch the city celebrate! Don't let the 48-hour wait diminish the euphoria of this moment, and the celebration. And it has been 28 years since the Phillies have enjoyed a World Championship; 25 years in this city with a team that has enjoyed a World Championship, and the fans are ready to celebrate. What a night!Kalas was actually deprived of a similar opportunity to call the Phils' 1980 World Series clincher, as the network agreements in place at the time prevented local broadcasters from calling the games. He did record a narration of that final out after the fact, and thanks in part to his popularity, the rule was amended the following year. Not even stuffy old Major League Baseball could resist that voice.
In 1978, Lyman Bostock was murdered, a few days before the end of the 1978 baseball season. He had only been with the Angels that season, but the pain for this fan was as real as if he had lived in our house... because in a way he had...• • •
All the moments in which he had excelled had occurred in our house, the television light filling the room, the sound of the radio as much a part of a summer night as the cacophony of your brothers and sisters bursting through the front door just back from a late day at the beach.
These players we will never know are family, we know the illusion of them better than we know some of our own kin. We still tell stories about the time they did this great feat or that terrible blunder as if those curveballs and errors happened in the backyard.
So we had another guest in our house last night, he had just joined the family and we were excited to have him. These kids are so fantastic to have over in the living room, the game taking all of our attention except for a dinner break while they keep playing. It is always a quick run back to see how they are doing.
But a tragedy means he will never be back at our house, at your house, across the homes of this sprawling, tangled neighborhood, this nation, the world even as this sport we love grows in our hearts and imagination. He had an open invitation from every fan in every home, and that invite was a manifestation of the love and hope and competitive drive in each of us. We are sports fans because it allows us to spend time with the absolute best in their prime.
I chose the first baseball card to ever feature on this site by reaching blindly into my unsorted box of old baseball cards. Amazingly, I pulled out the card I might have chosen if I had a lifetime to think about the choice: my one and only Mark Fidrych card. I tried to write about how happy he made me when I was eight years old, in 1976, and about how his card from 1980, the year I edged unwillingly from boyhood to something else altogether, seemed to suggest the feeling that the fleeting joy he'd authored over the course of one beautiful summer had slipped from his fingers for good.My condolences to those of you touched by the passings of Adenhart, Fidrych and Kalas. Excuse me now, I'm going to go pour myself a stiff drink and cry for awhile.
...His lifetime ERA of 2.47 and his age (he was still just 24), gave the back of the card, despite the shrinking yearly stats, a small but undeniable aura of hope.
But the front of the card photo pushes that hope into something closer to desperation. Here is a guy just trying to hang on, banished to the far edge of the field, the screen thrown up to guard him from foul balls seemingly as flimsy and haphazardly placed as the sparse mustache on his face. You can see Fidrych breathing, his furred lips pursed, forcing the breath out instead of letting it come and go naturally, doubts tumbling in his mind.
Imagine being forced to leave it all behind. You'll cling to the margins. You'll try to throw a few pitches without wincing, a few pitches that might allow you to move back across that white chalk line, back into the only world you ever loved.
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